Big Isle men charged in $1.5M financial scam


POSTED: Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Big Island company and its officers were charged with bilking $1.5 million from investors in a Ponzi scheme, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced yesterday.

WeCorp Inc. Chief Executive and President Stuart Jones and Senior Vice President Payton Lowe were charged with violating the Commodity Exchange Act and other regulations. Their assets have been frozen by a federal judge.

According to the commission, they promised monthly 100 percent returns with no risk of loss. Only a portion of investor funds were used for trading off-exchange foreign currency contracts; the rest went to pay back early investors and cover the defendants' “;luxurious lifestyle in the Hawaiian Islands.”; That included renting a $25,000-a-month house in Honolulu and leasing luxury cars.

A call to WeCorp's Hilo office went unanswered.

Last week, Hawaii Commissioner of Securities Tung Chan issued a preliminary cease-and-desist order against WeCorp for selling unregistered securities and violating the state's securities registration and anti-fraud provisions.

Chan is also seeking permanent injunctions against future violations, restitution and civil penalties of $1 million.

The lawsuit also alleges that Jones, Lowe and the company provided investors with false statements showing consistent monthly profits.

The commission seeks restitution, penalties and permanent injunctions to prevent further trading.